When I went to college I barely engaged with the professors. I sat passively in class taking notes, rarely spoke up, and hoped not to be called on. I’m not sure why. I wonder if it was because I wasn’t taught to engage with the teacher during class, wasn’t taught that it was OK to ask questions, wasn’t taught that an intellectual give and take could be exciting for both student and teacher. I was there to listen. The teacher was there to tell me what they thought I should know. Period. If that was the case, it is a shame. I wonder if that is still happening in our elementary, middle, and high schools.
I could certainly see how our children were being taught to keep their heads down and not ask questions. They would come home with a combination of excitement about a topic and obvious frustration when they were prevented from running with the topic. This was one of the reasons we started home schooling. We wanted to encourage our kids to be intellectually curious, to ask questions, to engage us in a discussion about the topic and extend it into new areas. This will prepare them for getting the most out of college and their careers as it will prepare them to think, to question, to engage in the process. Even if we were as successful as I hope we are in imparting knowledge just teaching our children how to get engaged in learning would help prepare them for a successful life.
This all came to mind as I read David Henderson’s post My Philosophy of Teaching on EconLog. Henderson describes how he was thrilled to engage with those who were obviously enthusiastic about the topic and about learning. I want our kids to have that experience in college. And in life. Parents can do much to prepare them. I wish more public schools were setting kids on a path of intellectual curiosity and exploration.